Moncure Fire pitches new training facility

Chatham commissioners vote to move forward on proposal


Moncure Fire Chief Robert Shi made a plea for a new training facility at the Chatham County Commissioners April 15 meeting.

The department, which contracts with the county to provide fire, rescue and emergency medical services across 86 square miles in Moncure and surrounding areas.

“We are sort of the main community organization in Moncure, there is really no other quasi-public entity excluding the school,” Shi said. “We’re kind of the very heart of the community. … most of our firefighters are from Moncure, from the community they live in.”

The district, which is funded by a special fire tax, is projected to get “massive growth” Shi said, and noted that an increased need for fire services will arise before the money arrives.

“We do the best we can with the amount of money that we get to work with. We feel that we punch above our weight by trying to get creative,” Shi told the commissioners, emphasizing the need for safety equipment and, particularly, a new training center.

Shi asked commissioners to allocate $600,000 of funding from the coal ash fund towards construction of a new training facility to help prepare for “high risk, low-frequency events.”

“Some of the most challenging incidents we respond to are things that don’t happen often. We need to have that muscle memory,” he explained. “Training facility credit is worth 14 times as much as classroom training” when it comes to determining the ISO rating for the district, which is what helps determine property insurance rates.

“Maintaining or lowering our permit rating directly translates into saving money for the citizens in our district,” he said. Currently, it’s prohibitive to get it is prohibitive to get that kind of training as much as is needed due to the distance and scheduling of other facilities. The training facility Shi proposed would be built out of shipping containers, with significant cost savings over a purpose-built building.

The department would also be able to partner with CCCC to teach public safety classes at the facility, with Shi emphasizing the multi-purpose uses and overall bang-for-the-buck it would deliver.

The board voted unanimously to move forward and have a contract proposal brought before the board at a future meeting.